Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater are two enterprising thieves who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the death of the king....
Eleven years before they were framed for the murder of a king, before even assuming the title of Riyria, Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater were practically strangers....
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Michael J. Sullivan garnered critical raves and a massive readership for his Riyria Revelations series. The first book in his highly anticipated Riyria Chronicles series of prequels, The Crown Tower brings together warrior Hadrian Blackwater with thieving assassin Royce Melborn. The two form a less-than-friendly pairing, but the quest before them has a rare prize indeed, and if they can breach the supposedly impregnable walls of the Crown Tower, their names will be legend.
The Crown Tower: The Riyria Chronicles, Book 1 starts with a nice forward from the author, Michael J. Sullivan, where he explains why he decided to write the prequel stories, The Riyria Chronicles, after having published The Riyria Revelations. And in the forward he says that he wrote them in a way that readers could enjoy reading the stories in order of publication (Revelations first, then Chronicles) or in order of events (Chronicles first, then Revelations). Having read all The Riyria Revelations books and now having listened to the first of The Chronicles, I think that is mostly true - you could follow the story in either order. However, The Crown Tower is bound to be a joy and great fun to anyone who enjoyed The Revelations, but isn't likely to be as compelling to those who have not. All the world building and plot setup is done in The Revelations and you just aren't going to understand what it means when someone says, "By Maribor,....", the hostility toward "the church", and some other references in The Crown Tower without reading The Revelations books. The Revelations is the place to fall in love with Michael Sullivan's world and its characters; The Chronicles provide icing on a really great cake.
If you have already read and loved The Revelations, you are gonna be thrilled with The Crown Tower. The boys (Hadrian and Royce) are back, but not quite the amazing pair they came to be in The Revelations. The Crown Tower goes through their first adventure together forced on them by Professor Arcadius (remember him??) and we get some wonderful insights into how these opposites came together to make such a great team. Michael Sullivan's style is consistent - quick paced, great settings, good plotting, even minor characters have dimension, and very witty dialog. One other similarity with The Revelations; Sullivan writes great fight scenes even for a reader like me who isn't too into the normal violence of high fantasy. In addition to taking us back to the beginning of the daring duo, The Crown Tower gives us an origin narrative for Gwen which I found surprisingly compelling. I will admit that I wasn't overly fond of the Gwen character in The Revelations books - mostly only liked her for her protectiveness of Royce. However, when you get the back-story on Gwen, she becomes a much more sympathetic and understandable character.
I really like the pairing of Sullivan's writing with Tim Reynolds narration. Not only did Reynolds do the narration for The Revelations books which keeps The Crown Tower sounding nicely consistent, but Reynolds seems a natural for Sullivan's books. Reynolds shades his voice more than changing it for character voices/accents, but it is plenty to make the dialog easy to follow and keeps Sullivan's very adventuresome writing from sounding "over the top" while still maintaining a nice narrative tension throughout the book.
If you haven't read The Riyria Revelations books, please start there and if you like high fantasy at all you will love them. If you have read The Riyria Revelations, dive into The Crown Tower and be prepared to not want to stop until the end of the book. This is a totally satisfying listen that will still leave you wanting MUCH more!!
166 of 169 people found this review helpful
Been a fantasy and science fiction fan all my life, but after reading the three volumes of Michael J. Sullivan's Ryria Revelations series (Theft of Swords, et al) in 2012 he shot to the top of my favorite author list. In fact, I felt bereft that there weren't more books to read about the two main characters, Hadrian and Royce. I tend to think of those two as the Laurel and Hardy of fantasy fiction, constantly getting into trouble and wise-cracking their way through it. I read many other series since, but actually grew tired of all the epic battles and endless descriptions of the blood and gore. By the time I got to the end of Wheel of Time, I didn't even care anymore. I just wanted the darn story to be OVER!
I longed for more great writing like Sullivan's, where the unfolding story and development of the characters are the focus, with enough action, swordplay and a dash of romance that creates an experience I thoroughly enjoy. When did you last read a fantasy series with characters like Hadrian and Royce that made you laugh out loud? Now I'm spoiled. I want more!
Imagine how excited I was to discover that now we ARE getting more of Hadrian and Royce! The new "Chronicles" series starts with the story of how they first met. I absolutely love this book! Everything I loved about the "Revelations" series (exciting story laced with humor and action and characters that I love). I also love that it's written in such a way that it doesn't matter whether you have or have not read the original "Revelations" series. Book 2 of The Riyria Chronicles is coming out in September. I can't wait.
Write faster, Michael...please! Keep 'em coming!
36 of 37 people found this review helpful
SILENCE WAS THE RESULT OF SOMEONE GETTING STRANGLED
Character driven, action packed, twists and turns, but most of all entertaining. I actually liked this one a little better then The Crown Conspiracy. That is probably mostly because I am a bit anal about order. Sullivan writes an excellent intro and he believes you would enjoy reading the other series first. If you read the other series there are some secrets revealed in this series you will love hearing. He does state that read in either order they should be good. Like I said I enjoyed this just a little better, but then I am DIMMER THEN A STARLESS NIGHT.
ANYTHING CAN ALWAYS BE WORSE
I love the character development and at first you might think they are a little two dimensional, but be patient, as the story goes on the characters become more complicated and more human. As far as characters go, I believe we learn that 1. people are they way they are due to how they are raised and 2. they have the ability to change and become better people. I am looking forward to continuing the series and watching these characters better themselves. This first journey was fun and there was not a dull moment. THAT WAS A STINK THAT NEEDED AIRING.
27 of 28 people found this review helpful
The problem with many others that create prequels and sequels is that they try to make the story too outrageous and in a way unrealistic. This is a fantasy book, but the characters actually feel real.
In revelations Royce and Hadrian seemed like an odd pair, but it was stated that at first they actually despised each other. This book describes how it all began better than I could of imagined. The best thing about this book it made me understand Royce and Hadrian much more. Character development is lacking in some series, but with Riyria Chronicles and Revelations the author makes you feel how they are feeling with every loss and hardship. He makes you understand the type of people they are.
Also the back story on Gwen makes you understand her more as a character as well. You also start to see how genuine and nice she actually is. In Revelations she was a little bit of a mystery and did not seem as much of an important character.
There is also some extra mystery coming out in this book that makes me wonder if the author will reveal more of the story from the point of view of the professor. How he knows what he does and whom he is working with.
All in all I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone that has read Revelations or is just looking for other great books as well. Michael Sullivan really knows how to develop his characters so you can really understand who they are. I would probably still read Revelations first though since I believe you will fall in love with the characters quicker there and really want to know how they came to be.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
Book has a very familiar feel to it, originally set by the trilogy, as author and narrator gets listener back into the same world with ease. Author kept the promise of giving an equally enjoyable experience to listeners regardless of prior reads. I can notice the Easter eggs that I already have read the trilogy where book was still fresh enough for me to enjoy. Book certainly will be a joy to read for the readers who have not read the trilogy already; however, I would recommend picking up the trilogy while waiting for the rest of the prequels to arrive that each prequel still enjoyable even if trilogy is been already read.
Book mostly about how Hadrian and Royce met or rather forced to work together. This arrangement setup by their mutual friend leads to insight about each of their characters and background giving a lot more depth to both of them. It did seem for little while that their friendship was forced upon them, and for little while it was tiresome to endure the banter between them (which is very small part of the book). For the most of the book, their interaction is very enjoyable.
Book also get into other characters which are not on forefront in other books. For example, there is a large sections of background story for Gwen’s. At times, it was surprising the amount of details provided for her story.
I loved the trilogy, and I would highly recommend the prequels as well. Narrator is a natural fit for author’s writing. In fact, I have read other books narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds by searching for other books that are narrated by him.
I look forward to the next book in the prequel as well a new series (whenever Michael decides to write it : )
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
I wasn't sure I would find this as compelling as the "Revelations" series because I would know "how it came out". But I was grabbed from the first sentence! Some great new characters and settings, and it was so much fun to see how our unlikely duo happened to work together. Knowing the other stories gives us some of the power of Gwen, the seer, as we have some glimpses of the future but not exactly how the characters will get there.
I enjoyed Sullivan's introduction. It's great to have an author who wants to be connected with his readers and cares about them, and who really loves to write about his world. My only complaint is that I wish this book had been longer and that Audible will soon have the pre-order for the next one (The Rose and Crown).
Thank goodness Tim Reynolds still narrated, I wouldn't be able to imagine any other voices for our heroes!
Although you can certainly start here, if you haven't listened to any, I'd recommend starting with Theft of Swords and going through that trilogy first.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
If you've read the Riyira Chronicles, this is the story of how our two Muskateers, Royce and Hadrian become partners. The author suggests you read the trilogy first, and I heartily agree.
I love this entire series because I love the two main characters. In fact, the author's wife fell so hard for Hadrian she inspired her husband to write this prequel. Their banter and swashbuckling are fun, funny and exciting.
And this is exactly why it's important to listen to the Chronicles first. This story is about the forming of a partnership that precedes the truly great adventure of the Ryira.
While this story has little in the way of elves, trolls, magic, warlocks and witches, it is a terrific adventure that captured my imagination.
18 of 20 people found this review helpful
This will be quick and to the point.
If you like rich fantasy, as I do, you'll want to listen to the "Riyria Revelations" trilogy by Michael J. Sullivan. When you do, you're in for hours of incredibly rich and rewarding listening that you'll re-visit long after the first listen. But, not just yet.
This isn't about THAT series...Well, in a way, it is.
Before you move to that fantastic trilogy, start HERE, with this prequel to the series. If you don't, you're truly missing out on an incredible listening ride worth your hard-earned Audible credit.
Why start here? Easy.
Conceived and written after the trilogy was published, the author was urged by his wife to do a series of short stories that further establish and solidify what you'll read in the awesome "Revelations" trilogy. Sullivan takes an already well-written series, and uses the opportunity to set multiple stages for what's ahead. And THAT makes the trilogy an even more enjoyable listen, once you get there.
Herein you'll find a EXTENSIVE world created and enriched to satisfy any listening appetite ready for adventure, depth, storyline, mystery, intrigue, shadowy secrets, plans within plans, detailed characters and VERY good dialogue...and here's the best part: All of it is well written, and a pleasure to experience. And the narrator, Tim Reynolds, does a respectable job to bring the characters to life!
Again, as usual, ZERO plot secrets, spoilers or giveaways - That's cheating YOU, dear Audible listener, out of the fun of enjoying Sullivan's journey for the first time, with all of the surprises, captivation and enjoyment he originally intended for you to experience.
You want shallow, boring writing, steer clear. Otherwise, you should dip your toe into Sullivan's waters with this awesome prequel, and if you do, I'm betting that you'll dive headfirst the Revelations trilogy.
Just like I did. And by the way, the water's fine!
57 of 66 people found this review helpful
As explained in the prologue narrated by the author, Michael J. Sullivan was very satisfied with the way he ended the Riyria Revelations series so his only option for continuing with these characters was to go the route of prequels. He also explained that he penned this book in such a manner that it works well for both readers new to Riyria as well as veterans of the first series. I listened to this one as the latter and having Tim Gerard Reynolds back at the mic made me feel right at home.
Many hints are dropped throughout the Revelations series about how Royce and Hadrian first met and at last here is that tale. Revealed within is the "what" and the "how" behind the forming of Riyria, while series veterans will bring along their own knowledge about the "why." New readers can start here and just listen in "chronological order" and learn the "why" over time. This is well done by Sullivan who continues to endear himself to me due to the way in which he approaches his craft.
I don't go to 5 stars for this one simply because the characters of Royce and Hadrian are not as interesting as they will eventually become after they exert influence on each other for a while. The basic premise of an "odd couple" pairing of the cold blooded killer with the honorable knight stereotype is nothing new, but Royce and Hadrian are unique enough to overcome this cliché and make it worth your time. Veterans and newbies alike should pick this one up with the expectation of continuing on.
I have already started book 2 of this series and I am enjoying it immensely as the melding of these two opposite individuals is taking shape and forming the pair of thieves that I have come to know and love. Did I say thieves? My bad, I should have said "creative problem solvers."
14 of 16 people found this review helpful
Not that I didnt expect the book to be good but after absolutely loving the debut series I figured this would be okay but nowhere near as good as it was. i put off buying it because i just wasnt sure about the whole prequel thing. im usually not a big fan of prequels but after running out of current books i just couldnt decide what to read next. i finally settled on the crown tower and it blew me away. i remember why i loved riyria revelations to begin with. Sullivans books rank with, mistborn, the entire and the rose, sovereign of the seven isles, and a couple others ive enjoyed over the past couple years. ive read and listened to the entire series and its one of the few I regularly recommend to friends. Cant wait for the rose and the thorn. Im in the camp of reading the Riyria Revelations first for sure. i know that it is said that this book could be a stand alone novel but being a RR veteran i think that reading this book first would result in the book not being as enjoyable as it was. Knowing the people and places beforehand gives the book a more intimate feel that just wouldnt be there if you start your adventure here. This book and series is a 100% must read for fantasy fans and a 200% must, hafta, required read for Riyria fans. I am officially on the RR prequel bandwagon. KILLER READ!!!!!!!!!
9 of 10 people found this review helpful